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University of Otago named as major Highlanders sponsor

University of Otago named as major Highlanders sponsor

The University of Otago has become one of the major sponsors of the Highlanders, in a move primarily aimed at capitalising on the rugby franchise’s significant marketing exposure by the national and international media.

In an announcement at the Forsyth Barr Stadium today (Monday), Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne says the decision to back the Highlanders Super Rugby Competition franchise was based on many strong synergies with the high-profile team representing provinces south of the Waitaki, including Otago and Southland.
This is a first for a New Zealand university, although in Australia and the US, for example, it was not uncommon for universities to support their high profile local sports athletes and teams. A principal sponsor of the Brumbies rugby franchise in Australia is the University of Canberra.

Among the opportunities for the University of Otago, the sponsorship will bring the University’s name to the back of the Highlanders’ jerseys, on the medics’ bibs, and the University’s logo will also be painted on the stadium field and appear on sideline digital signage during games at the Dunedin stadium. University television advertisements will play at the stadium during intervals, and players will involve themselves in more University events and academic initiatives.
“The Stadium and the Highlanders will be a canvas to highlight the University of Otago, which is located literally on the doorstep of this world-class facility,” she says.
During home games at the stadium, the international television broadcasting of matches meant powerful brand exposure. At other stadiums in New Zealand and overseas, including in Australia and South Africa, the international marketing benefits of having the University’s name on the jersey, visible to an average of 250,000 viewers at each game in 2013 alone, was also a major benefit of the sponsorship arrangement. “This agreement provides the University with more than just the opportunity to increase our visibility to our markets across New Zealand and overseas. “Rugby is not just a game on a Saturday night - it’s a business as well. When you look at the high-level skills that have been used to develop professional rugby success – the expertise in medical, physiotherapy, marketing and business areas, the science in clothing and nutrition – a lot of this has come from students, graduates, researchers and teachers from the University of Otago.”

Highlanders General Manager Roger Clark is delighted to welcome the University of Otago to its family of major sponsors.
“We congratulate them on becoming the first university in the country to align with a professional rugby franchise in such a significant way. Good business strategy, innovation and support for the community have long been hallmarks of the University of Otago and this unique partnership certainly continues that legacy,” he says.
Mr Clark adds the University of Otago is New Zealand’s oldest and finest university and an iconic brand showcasing international success from our region.
“Super Rugby and the Highlanders have a strong following within New Zealand and across the globe. We believe this association will help further our respective brands and businesses both domestically and internationally.

“We are excited about taking the field in a jersey bearing the University of Otago logo, a jersey that already means a great deal to us will mean even more now.”
Professor Hayne adds that a career within the multi-million-dollar industry of international rugby in New Zealand is among the highly satisfying occupations that Otago graduates have chosen in the past and will continue to pursue in the years to come. Moreover, some of the most prestigious universities in the world have strong sports programmes, and it was hoped the support of the Highlanders franchise, and associated benefits, would draw more of the “best and brightest” to study at Otago.
“So there are very real synergies that make this sponsorship such a great fit for our University.... not the least of which is that each year, a large group of our students are probably the most colourful and passionate fan-base of the Super Rugby Competition in New Zealand,” she says.
The University of Otago also has “a long and proud history” of nurturing some of the best Highlanders (and Otago) players, and future All Blacks, as they studied for their degrees at Otago while pursuing their rugby careers.
Professor Hayne says an important consideration of supporting the Highlanders was also the Stadium itself, and the need for the Otago and Southland community, of which the University is a part, to support it.
“The University has a commitment to the Stadium, which we use for University events, including student Orientation, and it is a safe, and a short walk from flats and colleges. Our sponsorship of the Highlanders is a clear and tangible signal of the University’s support of this world-class resource in Dunedin,” she says.
“We are New Zealand’s oldest and finest University, but we are also sometimes its shyest. The location of our main campus in Dunedin is beautiful, but we sometimes run the risk of being overlooked because the University isn’t located in one of the larger cities. It is important for our University to lead from the front and let it be known that this is a community of endless opportunity. The Highlanders are also a part of that community.”

UO Launcgh

Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne is pitcured here with University of Otago graduate Craig Millar and current student Ben Smith. 


Jo Galer
Senior Communications Adviser
University of Otago
Tel: 03 4798263
Mob: 021 2798263

Amanda Gould
Marketing Manager
Tel: 03 4799280
Mob: 0212238440
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Roll call of University associations

Otago University Rugby Football Club’s history with the Highlanders
Several Otago University Rugby Football Club (OURFC) players have been Highlanders. Players include Anton Oliver, Adam Thomson, James Ryan, Tom Donnelly and Simon Maling. All five of these players were also All Blacks.
Other OURFC club members who have played for the Highlanders include Brendon Timmins, John Leslie, Justin Cullen, Mike Mika, John Blaikie, Duncan Blaikie, Josh Blackie, Nick Moore, Sean Romans, Chris Noakes, Pita Alitini, Matt Carrington, Kenny Lynn, Jason Kawau, Ryan Nicholas, Matt Berquist and Grant Webb.
*Taine Randell, former All Black Captain and former Highlanders player, is also a graduate of the University of Otago.
Highlanders players and staff who are either University of Otago current students or graduates:
Liam Coltman Working on a BPhEd degree
Ben Smith Working on a BPhEd degree
Gareth Evans BSc in Geography
Tom Franklin BCom [BusMgt]
Craig Millar BCom [Acctg]

Jamie Joseph (Head Coach)
- Bachelor of Physical Education

Dr Greg Macleod (Team Doctor)
- Bachelor of Physical Education
- Bachelor of Science (Nutrition)
- Bachelor of Physiotherapy
- Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Medicine
- Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery
- Postgraduate Diploma in Child Health

Adam Letts (Physiotherapist)
- Bachelor of Science (Anatomy)
- Bachelor of Physiotherapy
- Postgraduate diploma in Sports medicine
- Postgraduate certificate in Acupuncture

Karl Houltham (Assistant Physiotherapist)
- Bachelor of Physical Education
- Bachelor of Physiotherapy
- Post Graduate Diploma (Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy)
- Master of Physiotherapy (Manipulative Physiotherapy)
Natalie Fraser (Mental Skills Coach)
- Diploma for Graduates (Physical Education)
- Currently completing Masters of Physical Education in Sports Psychology

Fiona Simpson (Sports Dietician)
- Bachelor of Science (Human Nutrition)
- Bachelor of Physical Education
- Postgraduate Diploma in Dietetics

Andrew Beardmore (Strength and Conditioning Coach)
- Bachelor of Physical Education

Mike Kerr (Commercial Manager)
- Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing/Management) –
- Diploma for Graduates (Psychology)

Amanda Gould (Finance and Marketing Manager)
- Bachelor of Commerce (International Business)

Peter Sinclair (Personal Development Manager)
- Bachelor of Arts
- Masters of Education
- Post grad Diploma in Education Psychology
- Diploma in Education

Media Release - Buxton Popoalii withdraws from 2014 Super Rugby season

MEDIA RELEASE – Thursday 6th February 2014
Highlanders outside back Buxton Popoalii withdraws from 2014 Super Rugby season

Highlanders outside back Buxton Popoalii has withdrawn from the Highlanders for the 2014 Investec Super Rugby season to focus on recovering from surgery planned for later this month.

Highlanders General Manager Roger Clark said, "Buxton has a longstanding heart condition. Recent routine tests have determined he needs further surgery, which he will undergo this month. Buxton will take a break from all rugby this year to focus on his recovery.

"While we, and Buxton himself, are devastated at this news, it is clear that he needs to focus entirely on his own health and wellbeing. Buxton is currently feeling and doing well and our medical staff are managing his care. Buxton is a very popular member of the Highlanders and we are all supporting him through what is a very difficult time.”

Buxton and his family have asked for privacy at this time, and he will not be available for media interviews.



KFC Image 2

KFC today announced its sponsorship of the five New Zealand Super Rugby teams in this year’s Investec Super Rugby competition, which kicks off on February 15.

Jamie McKaughan, KFC's general manager of operations, says as a long-time sponsor of the Condor Sevens the decision to support the Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders and Highlanders was a “natural progression”, and one enthusiastically welcomed by KFC staff.

“We’re getting involved with Super Rugby because we’re huge fans ourselves”, says McKaughan. “KFC and rugby are Kiwi favourites. We’re both about gathering family and mates to enjoy something, whether it’s a meal or a great game.”

McKaughan wants to use his large network of stores and customers around the country to attract a younger and more diverse audience to the game.

All five New Zealand Super Rugby teams believe KFC's support will help to revitalise rugby for the youth market. KFC have a particularly high reach in the youth market, which the Super Rugby licensees say they are keen to better connect with. It is hoped that this partnership may help to grow more young rugby spectators and participants.

Highlanders CEO Roger Clark said "It’s exciting to have KFC join the Highlanders as a partner with their proven experience in sponsorship internationally. They will bring an extra element of fun and excitement to our rugby events. At the Highlanders we are all about providing our fans with an entertaining and fun filled experience and we know KFC can support us achieve this.”

KFC will show support for the teams in-store and out in the community, and via traditional and social media. All 98 KFC stores nationwide will be decked out in local team colours with staff also wearing limited-edition uniforms.

KFC's customers and 300 000+ Facebook fans can look forward to some great prizes and free game tickets and meals in exchange for showing support for their team.

“KFC’s offering some great activities and competitions throughout the season to help people get more involved, including our sponsorship of popular gaming apps Virtual Rugby and Fantasy Rugby, which will be combined and rebranded as Dream Team," said McKaughan.

KFC has a number of successful sponsorships, both locally and internationally including its sponsorship of New Zealand Surf Lifesaving.


For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:
Restaurant Brands:
Rewa Willis, Sherson Willis Limited, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , 021 248 3481
The Highlanders:
Amanda Gould, Media Manager, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , 021 223 8440

SANZAR Rugby News

January 23, 2014

Manikins, translators and future cops – Highlanders prepare for life

By SANZAR News Service

Rugby, for all of us, can seem like the centre of our universe, especially when that moment occurs where we experience the agony and ecstasy that comes with all the highs and lows that sport thrust upon us.

We of course wouldn't have it any other way.

For players, these emotions are often the ultimate reason for the sacrifices they are prepared to make for body, family, and at the highest pinnacle – their country.

Such peaks however can sometimes come with a dramatic nadir.

Especially when a rugby career begins a transition to what we might call, somewhat oddly, normal life.

Feeling down isn’t something that is solely reserved for players when reflecting on a loss, but it can come out of no-where as to others – especially those who have hung up the boots – never seem to be able to recreate that 80 minute intensity, that brotherhood on the training field, in day-to-day life.

This is where Peter Sinclair comes in, as the Highlanders' Personal Development Manager he is the individual who players rely to help them with preparing for life, both after and around rugby.

“It is about managing the period of adjustment,” the former teacher said.

“It takes a while to move away from a regimented rugby lifestyle, as life after sport becomes a lot more relaxed.

“And that isn’t always a good thing,” Sinclair laughed.

The off-field mentor has been part of the Otago and Highlanders rugby family since 2005, working on preparing players on every aspect, be it their career or just overall health.

It isn't always about education, as some player’s already boasted degrees while a couple have their own fully fledged businesses.

It was about helping with the “holistic” skills and abilities of the players.

So clearly, Peter is a master psychologist and guru?

“I’m no expert in those matters,” he said.

“Helping them away from the field is one thing, but it is most important to set them up during rugby recognising the value of support network.”

This is an area where Sinclair’s work, and long term approach, varies from the coaching staff.

“Once you have spent time with us, you are always part of the team,” he said.

“We like to think of it as lifetime membership.”

“While it is a natural part of a rugby career, or any profession for that matter, that players move on or are even picked up by other clubs, we will always keep in touch.

“There is always a handover (to a franchise or union equivalent of Peter) if they switch, with the players permission.

“You know at some stage they are going to go, but for all we know we may pick up this bloke again!”

So what has the squad been doing of late?

“Part of our focus for the overall well-being of the players is essential first aid training,” he said.

Successfully completing a cardiopulmonary resuscitation course, or CPR, is a required skill as a Highlander.

The entire squad attended, even the tight forwards were not exempt.

The sight of mammoth front rowers attended to CPR manikins was quite the sight, as was the steady stream of Spanish coming from one section of the training floor.

Matiaz Diaz, the Mendoza born tighthead, attended with his interpreter, although Sinclair did not think their presence would be required for too long.

“He is learning fast, he is a good bloke with no accent,” he said.

Peter wasn’t the only one happy with how successfully the training session went, with the final stages of the pre-season closing off for the Highlanders.

“The players were impressed, they found themselves very empowered,” he said.

“Having such skills help them develop, both in rugby and away from the field.”

Working hard away from the field wasn’t anything new for the Highlanders, with Sinclair saying that if anything the team had put in even more effort than recent seasons.

“It was hard,” he admitted of staying positive and united through some tough patches for the Highlanders.

“The intention and the hard work was there, it just didn’t happen for us.

“We’ve always done a very thorough review, and this year was no exception.

“You just have to do it; otherwise we can’t see were we might need to make changes and where we need to improve.”

However life continues, and a heavy period of training, seminar and assessment work comes to a close as the team looks to their pre-season.

“We’re treating them like full matches,” Sinclair said.

While the full bore aspect of the rugby season might be about to start, continuing the development of the players is paramount, with a few even getting a taste of life after the game, even if the stakes in their new potential professions could be even more intense.

“A few of the players, Joe Wheeler and Malakai Fekitoa, will undergo induction and be exposed to things they might experience as a police officer,” he said.

“This is a big part of what we do, if they express an interest, we start a process.”

A process that Peter has become an intricate and important part of, now entering his tenth year with the team, and while many players have passed through his doors, he still keeps in touch with most, while guiding the new generation where he can.

After all, there is more to life than rugby…

For original story (and pictures) please click here


Highlanders' 2014 Squad Announced

The Highlanders have announced today their 2014 squad to contest the 2014 Super Rugby title. The Highlanders have also confirmed that Ben Smith and Nasi Manu will lead the team in 2014 as co-captains.

The squad of 37 is made up of 32 players on full contract and also five players in the Wider Training Group. 23 players are returning from the 2013 season.  Kurt Baker returns to the Highlanders after a season with the Crusaders, and he is joined in the backs by Malakai Fekitoa (Auckland), Patrick Osborne (Canterbury), Bay of Plenty captain Willie Ripia, and Winston Stanley (Force).  In the forwards Tasman captain Shane Christie joins the southern franchise, alongside Pumas International Matias Diaz, Kane Hames (Bay of Plenty) and Otago players Tom Franklin and Gareth Evans.        

The Wider Training Group includes two Otago players in Lee Allan and Craig Miller, and also Richard Buckman (Hawke’s Bay), Trent Renata (Waikato) and Ged Robinson (Hawke’s Bay).

Highlanders’ Head Coach, Jamie Joseph, commented that the squad is well balanced and has depth across the board.

“We’re very pleased with the quality of players in our squad of 37 for next season. We have a core group of players returning from 2013, which allows continuity, but to have 14 new faces brings new ideas and enthusiasm”

Joseph also added that selecting Ben and Nasi was reflective of the approach the team would be taking to the 2014 Super Rugby season.

“As a coaching group, we’ve selected two players we know will lead from the front and who have the experience and respect of the whole squad.  The role of captain in a Super Rugby team is vital to the success of the team, and sharing the workload between two complementary players was a big part of our decision”

Ben Smith has played 72 games for the Highlanders since making his Super Rugby debut in 2009 against the Brumbies.  Smith has played 18 tests for the All Blacks and has recently been selected to travel with the team to the United Kingdom for the end of year tour.

Nasi Manu has played 49 Super Rugby games after making his debut in 2008 for the Crusaders.  Manu joined the Highlanders in 2010 and has played 33 games for the franchise.

The Highlanders begin their season with a home match at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday 22 February against the Blues.

Josh Bekhuis, Shane Christie, Liam Coltman, Matias Diaz, Elliot Dixon, Gareth Evans, Ma’afu Fia, Tom Franklin, Kane Hames, John Hardie, Jarrad Hoeata, TJ Ioane, Chris King, Nasi Manu, Brayden Mitchell, Brad Thorn & Joe Wheeler.

Kurt Baker, Phil Burleigh, Jason Emery, Malakai Fekitoa, Patrick Osborne, Hayden Parker, Buxton Popoalii, Willie Ripia, Aaron Smith, Ben Smith, Lima Sopoaga, Winston Stanley, Fumiaki Tanaka, Shaun Treeby & Frae Wilson.

Wider Training Group
Lee Allan, Richard Buckman, Craig Millar, Trent Renata & Ged Robinson.